In Control

Life is sometimes crazy, isn’t it? I mean, look at what we have gone through in just a few short months this year.

A pandemic killed the world economy and dramatically increased mental health cases.

Racism pushed its way into the limelight, temporarily quashing pandemic concerns while protesters took to the streets.

We expanded our vocabulary with new phrases and word pairings. “Physical distancing.” “Social distancing.” “We’re in this together.” “Stay safe.” If you are like me, hearing these words is like hearing nails grating on a chalkboard.

Despite everything, however, the earth continues to revolve around the sun 24/7.

What awaits us in the bigger picture is anyone’s guess, but one thing is sure: With all the turbulence of 2020 (the irony of hindsight is not lost in that number), we do see goodness emerging both in people and our planet.

Since working at home has become the norm for most, parents are now focusing more on their children. Family time and the family unit have once again become relevant.

And pollution has decreased. The earth is breathing freely again.

As I ponder the first half of 2020, I wanted to share what I believe are essential learnings.

  1. There is but one race on our planet. It is called the human race.
  2. Money is power, and the powerful continue to rule the world. That said, the assimilation of wealth in the hands of a few (the one percent) is not sustainable for humanity.
  3. Medical experts do not always get it right. Pandemic measures done in excess create more harm than good (for example, suicide rates are spiking, domestic violence is on the rise).
  4. Objective news reporting has given way to sensationalism. Ratings and profits are driving what should be unbiased and balanced news.
  5. Social media creates stress in excess. It can usurp all energy in a single post.
  6. Fear makes people do silly things. The media is an excellent incubator of fear.
  7. All individuals function at different emotional levels. That is what makes us unique. That is also what creates severe differences of opinion and conflict. Media helps fuel these differences.
  8. Critical thinking is not something that everyone possesses equally. There is also inequality in the distribution of money. And power. See point 2 above.
  9. Politics are a dirty business. Even good politicians must take a certain amount of mudslinging if they are to stay in the game.
  10. Businesses are opening slowly, and even the grocery store food lines are starting to go by the wayside. Things appear to be returning to normal.
  11. Personal productivity and motivation are inextricably linked. Good mental health also impacts motivation.
  12. Not all businesses will survive the economic slowdown. But not all businesses will die, either.

I’m sure you can add more to this list.

When this pandemic passes – and it will – I hope that you get a chance to reflect on how the experience has changed not only your business but you, personally.

How will your post-pandemic reality look? Will it be the same as pre-pandemic, or will the scars remain long after the “all clear” from epidemiologists and governments?

Whatever your reality, know that businesses cannot operate as usual in the post-pandemic era. If innovation and flexibility were not embedded in your business previously, they must become part of your business mantra now. Companies capable of thinking through new ideas and quickly experimenting are the ones that will survive post-pandemic.

According to the World Economic Forum, the global economic slowdown is forecast to cost the global economy at least $1 trillion in 2020 (not including the tragic human consequences). That should be motivation enough to start thinking about how to adapt your business to a new reality – regardless if a new way of doing business is required.

How do you start adapting your business? Look at the flaws in your organization first – this crisis amplified these flaws. Implementing new ways of dealing with the customer is mandatory to correct the weaknesses.

Next, identify where you need help – is it knowledge, skill, products, or something else? We can’t do everything on our own – ask and get the help you need to sustain your operation. Other areas to evaluate include your data and technology (is it working for or against you?) and your workforce. Machines and computers are great (when and where they are needed), but no business can function effectively without a competent workforce.

In the end, when things do return to normal, know that you are in control – both of your personal and business futures.